Thanks to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ proud identification as a Democratic Socialist and allusion to Denmark as an ideal social democracy, Denmark is being discussed throughout the news media. But what few outlets are brave enough to report is that, by almost every measurable standard, Danish socialism runs circles around American capitalism. Here are a few examples:
1. Denmark’s unemployed workers get 90 percent of their old salary for 2 years.
Denmark has a tremendous social safety net for unemployed workers — any worker who worked at least 52 weeks over a three-year period can qualify to have 90 percent of their original salary paid for, for up to two years. The Danish government also has plentiful training programs for out-of-work Danes. As a result, 73 percent of Danes between 15 and 64 have a paying job, compared to 67 percent of Americans.
2. Denmark spends far less on healthcare than the US.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the US spends twice as much per capita on healthcare than in Denmark, where taxpayer-funded universal healthcare is available for all citizens. 2009 OECD data shows that the U.S. spent an average of $7,290 per person on healthcare. Denmark spent just $3,512. World Bank data, as seen in the chart above, shows Danish healthcare costs are about $3,000 less per capita than in the US.
3. Denmark is the happiest country on Earth.
The World Happiness Report, which determines which nation’s population is the “happiest” using criteria like life expectancy, GDP, social safety nets, as well as factors like “perception of corruption” and “freedom to make life choices,” found that Denmark was the happiest country. The US, in the meantime, ranked #17 on the same list.
4. Danes enjoy the world’s shortest workweek.
Denmark leads every other OECD nation in work-life balance. Danes work an average of 33 hours a week, earn an average of $46,000 USD annually, and have the right to 5 weeks of paid vacation per year. Here in the US, the average worker puts in an average of 47 hours a week, and only takes 16 days of vacation a year. This is largely due to a more stressful work climate, in which wages are stagnating while costs are rising. Combine that with a highly-competitive job market, and that means more Americans are willing to chain themselves to their desk then to risk taking vacation days and coming back to find someone else took their job.
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